Sometimes the hardest thing during preseason in the NFL is not getting too high or low after the conclusion of a game. Such was my state of mind after leaving the stadium on Saturday night.
It was hard not feeling low after last night, as the game vs. Minnesota left more questions than answers. First, who in the heck will be the starting quarterback on September 7 vs. the Bengals, when the real season starts?
The answer is I have no clue. About the only thing I can say for sure is it shouldn’t be Joe Flacco. Flacco will be answer in 2009 and beyond but not now. The jump from playing at Delaware to playing in the NFL is huge. Go back and look at Peyton and Eli Mannings’ brutal rookie seasons. They proved that the jump from the powerhouse Southeast Conference (SEC) is hard. The game simply looks too big and too fast for Flacco right now. Have patience with the kid; after a year of learning and watching, you will see how much better he looks.
As for where that leaves the Ravens right now, I really don’t have the answer. Neither Troy Smith nor Kyle Boller has distinguished himself. Both have looked good from time to time, but neither has reached out and grabbed this opportunity. Both are still making mistakes, and neither signal caller has shown any form of consistency.
Boller is still turnover prone, and it seems that the whole fan base is against him. They boo this guy at training camp when he throws an incomplete pass. Smith has his own questions, like will he ever be accurate enough. Sure he made some plays with his feet last night, and at times the Ravens last night looked like Nebraska used to, when they dominated college football in the early and mid 90s–an option team, whose quarterbacks scared you with their feet, not their arms. How long before coordinators put a spy on him and force Smith to beat them with his arm? This is the NFL not the Big 12.
Somebody suggested to me last night that the Ravens should abandon ship with these two guys and pursue another option like Dante Culpepper or Chris Simms. No thanks on either player, too late in the preseason and I am not interested in somebody else’s rejects. Although another performance like Saturday night and maybe we need to think about it.
Then again is it really fair to judge any of these quarterbacks given the offensive line injuries? Can we really start a season with Chad Slaughter at left tackle? How much difference would Adam Terry and Jared Gaither really make?
What about their injuries and the injuries to Willis McGahee, Demetrius Williams, Dan Wilcox, Todd Heap, Ed Reed, Samari Rolle, Chris McAlister, Haloti Ngata, and Kelly Gregg? Are they really just things that will pass, or should we worry that these will be season-nagging injuries that see players questionable and doubtful from week to week.
I hope the Ravens are just being careful with these injuries or maybe they are just playing with the Bengals’ minds? But I worry; these guys have missed significant chunks of training camp. Where will their conditioning be? Can Gaither really be counted on to start this season without the necessary reps in preseason?
So many questions, so few answers. They say that the third preseason game is the most important, and for the Ravens, it will be. Next week the game in St. Louis will give us a true barometer on where we are. We’ll see who lines up among the injured vets and looks ready to play and maybe we will be one step closer to naming a starting quarterback.
Let’s hope next Saturday night we have more answers than questions.